United States Attorney General William Barr has ordered the reinstatement of the federal death penalty after 16 years, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Barr said in a statement. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
Critics argue that racial bias against defendants of color and in favor of white victims has a strong effect on who is capitally prosecuted, sentenced to death, and executed. The color of a defendant and victim’s skin plays a crucial role in deciding who receives the death penalty in America, according to the ACLU, and people of color have accounted for a disproportionate 43 percent of total executions since 1976 and 55 percent of those currently awaiting execution.
The executions are slated to take place in December 2019 and January 2020.